How to Remove Wallpaper From a Stairwell

Written by shauntelle hamlett
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Even the most seasoned do-it-yourselfer can feel intimidated by the thought of removing wallpaper from a stairwell. The key to accomplishing any wallpaper stripping project is having the right tools. In the case of stripping wallpaper from a stairwell, it is important that you have an articulated ladder to make it easier to reach the entire wall. An assistant is also helpful.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Chemical wallpaper stripper
  • Wallpaper scraper
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • Dust mask
  • Canvas dust sheet
  • Masking tape
  • Articulated ladder
  • An assistant

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  1. 1

    Read the manufacturer's directions for using an articulated ladder. Make sure that both you and your assistant are completely familiar with the safety standards. You will also both need to understand how you configure the ladder into a scaffold.

  2. 2

    Prep your work area with canvas dust sheets. Tape the dust sheet along the baseboard of the stairs and then scrunch the dust sheet along the baseboard to catch any chemical drips. (Do not spread the dust sheet completely across the stairs--this can cause a safety hazard.) Mix the chemical stripper according to the manufacturer's directions and add to the spray bottle.

  3. 3

    Position the articulating ladder to work on the upper half of the wall first. Depending on the height of your wall and ceiling, either bend the articulating ladder into a modified stepladder shape--placing one end on a lower step and the other end on a higher step--or create a scaffold to stand on. Create the scaffold by positioning the foot (support bar with anti-slip feet) of the ladder on a lower step and bending at the joint to create an "L" shape with the other support bar seated on a higher step.

  4. 4

    Roll the wallpaper scoring tool across the wallpaper in small figure eights. This will add small holes to the wallpaper to allow the chemical stripper to reach the adhesive backing.

  5. 5

    Spray the wall with chemical stripper, following the manufacturer's directions. Spray the wall liberally, from the top to the bottom. Use a sponge to help spread the chemical stripper for even distribution. After the wall is completely covered, allow the chemical stripper to soak in as directed by the manufacturer. After 15 to 20 minutes, you should see the wallpaper begin to bubble.

  6. 6

    Scrape the wallpaper from the wall using the wallpaper scraper (as directed by the manufacturer). Stubborn areas should be soaked with chemical stripper again. Continue until all of the wallpaper is removed.

  7. 7

    Soak the wall for 20 to 30 minutes with chemical stripper to soften any remaining adhesive. Clean the wall with a sponge and soapy warm water. Use the wallpaper scraper to remove any stubborn adhesive.

Tips and warnings

  • Work with a partner both for safety and for speed. One person should focus on scoring and applying the chemical stripper to the top part of the wall (the portions that can only be reached using the ladder) while the second person can focus on scoring and applying chemical stripper to the lower portion of the wall. If this isn't possible, focus on stripping the upper stairwell first and work your way down toward the bottom stairs.
  • Always use protective clothing, eyewear and a ventilation mask when working with potentially dangerous chemicals.

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